President Obama is certainly not making any new friends on the Republican side of the aisle with his new immigration policy and plans to move forward on it by executive order. In fact, Republicans are threatening lawsuits, with a not-so-veiled threat of impeachment down the road should he continue with what they consider to be an imperial presidency. According to them, he governs as a ruler instead of as democratic leader, by exerting his executive privilege to bypass Congress.
What a selective memory Republicans do have regarding the use of executive order. According to The Washington Post, Obama has actually signed the lowest number of executive orders of any of the last 10 Presidents. Ronald Reagan, the Republican's idolized Presidential symbol, signed 381 executive orders. George W. Bush signed 291. Barack Obama has signed 182. He’s not likely to come even close to those two guys even if he went on an executive order signing frenzy. But oh, he’s the one that needs to be sued and impeached for using the power granted to the President. Double standard any one? And hmm, I wonder why?
Not really. I know why and so do you.
President Obama knows by now that anything he does will be met with opposition from the Republican leadership. He knows this is not going to get any better with the new Congress and Senate coming in January. The entrenched opposition has made it clear from their campaigns that their priority in office is to block Obama by an means possible. So basically, they have given Obama no other choice - if Obama didn't take the executive order route, nothing will get done. As Obama noted in his speech on immigration reform, if Congress wants to have a voice in the policy, they should do their jobs and "pass a bill."
Obama also knows that even though he does not have the votes in Congress for his policy and the recent decision to halt deportations of undocumented parents of children born in the U.S., he does have the support of the American people. A CNN poll shows that only 26% of Americans think Obama’s plan goes too far. 50% said it is about right and 22% said it should actually be bolder. So 72% of the people have no problems with his action. So Obama is doing what he pledged to do - serving the American people. It just so happens that, unfortunately, serving the American people is not always synonymous with serving Congress.
With that being said, the same poll also found that 56% of the people are not in favor of his use of executive action on this reform. But I think that is simply a matter of media coverage and Republican outrage getting so much attention. As I mentioned above, most people are shocked to hear Obama uses this tactic far less than most Presidents. Republicans just have tricked people into believing otherwise. People will get over their hesitation on the tactic, as long as they agree with the action, and they do.
Go on and keep doing your thing, Mr. President. Supporting immigrants and reforming our outdated laws is the right action. If the Republicans don’t want to play, that is their problem. All they are doing is reminding us all what they really stand for. And despite the power they feel right now, 2016 will be here soon enough. And people will remember.
Photo Credit: Associated Press